The Performer, the Performance
The Performer, the Performance


As a musician I've always maintained that "you can criticise the performance but it does no good to criticise the performer". For years I've held that little saying in my head and have even used it on the odd occasion — but admittedly mostly to sound impressive and maybe not ever realizing what it exactly meant on deeper levels.

But recently, as I continue to practice my craft intently almost every day, I've come to realize that this old nugget is soooo true and I'm really feeling its meaning more correctly now, I think. In fact I've come to recognize and understand that it seems to apply to most things in life and situations with other people.

I believe we're already as good or capable or gifted as we'll ever be. All the practice in the world won't increase that or make that any better. But it's only with diligent practice, concentrated effort, and attention to detail that you can ever make that inner thing you already possess and the outer thing you want to use to pull that out of you and present it to the world, come closer to equaling each other. Or be in balance or symmetry with each other. There's the odd person who doesn't have to work very hard to present their best self but almost all of the rest of us aren't this lucky. It's hard, constant work and often the payback seems meager.

I think this is true with perceiving other people as well. I really have no place criticising the performer. I can object all day long to their performances but what they are, inherently, they can't be responsible for, it just is how they are. Likewise for me.

So it's all about working on your own game and helping others with their's if they seek that and if you're able to. It's simply about trying to make your presentation and your capabilities match.

That's very laborious. At least, for me it seems to be.


Possibly I'm being too opaque, too unclear so far?
Let me try to be clearer with an analogy that's perhaps less murky.

Think of a young child tying their shoelaces for the first times.

The first try doesn't go well, the second try goes just as badly, the third stalls out half way with a huff from the youngster and a throwing up of hands in frustration, the fourth, with a little guidance and asking for patience from a parent, shows signs of being better, perhaps the fifth turns out to be a pretty good semblance of a tied shoelace on their shoe, and the sixth try is even better.

Try number seven seems to almost nail it. Well, maybe the loops are a bit wonky but all in all, pretty good.

And then try number eight turns out pretty darn nice!

After that it only gets better and better for the little person and the tweaks get tighter and tighter over time until it becomes second nature for them.

Eventually, each and every time thereafter they yield a fairly perfect bow on a shoe, securing the foot inside very nicely and adequately.
(Tying a shoelace can only get SO GOOD afterall).

This is no different than reaching the summit of your capabilities.

We have potentials in many areas but without attention to detail, commitment to effort, work, and concentration in exploring and developing these particular talents and potential abilities we have, the peak will not be reached. Mountains don't climb themselves.

It is with these concerted applications of attention that progress will be made and eventually our capabilities and the methods and ways we use to display them to the outside world start to coincide or synchronize.

The summit of your capabilities was always there, you just chose to pursue them and do the hard work of climbing to match that plateau with your results.

That's a main goal of life if one cares to better themselves.


I've thought of another way of looking at it:

Our capabilities are like something residing within a block of marble.

It is said that back in the day, Michaelangelo would look at a block of marble and see things within it. He'd sit there for a long, long time, staring at the stone from many angles, thinking. Eventually, he'd perhaps see a statue of a crouching person resting on a rock, chin on hand, thinking, for example.

Michaelangelo in this allegory is us recognizing within ourselves certain talents or abilities or capabilities that others perceiving us might not easily, readily, or ever see.

Sometimes it takes a period of self-reflection to discover or acknowledge what is lurking inside.

It was then up to Michaelangelo to work very hard, chipping little pieces of marble away in very precise ways, over long periods of time with concentration and commitment to eventually reveal what was hidden within that stone.

At some point he achieved a fairly nice result.

He could stop there I suppose and that's fine but if he cleaned up the chisel marks even more, it got even better. If he smoothed grooves and lines and refined the features, soon the skin of the statue resembled real skin and garments and sandles and the eyes came to life and this was an even better presentation.

At any point he could have decided just how far and how much attention to detail he wanted to impart on his task. He could have even decided to do nothing. But to project the most accurate vision of what he saw in there in the first place, it was up to him to go as far as he could stand or commit to.

This is how our talent or capability is. And it's what is required to bring them into prominence for the world to see. (note, 'the world' not being just other people)...

Also understand, you can't chip away a five foot block of marble and end up with a 40-foot statue of David. It's just not in there. But that's fine. There are plenty of other things in a smaller stone just as grand if we care to explore and discover. Some people have a bigger block of marble to work with; different fault lines, additives, fissures, and densities than others. That's just how it is. It's a roll of the dice afterall.

It's all baked in the pie. You don't get more capabilities from trying. You only sharpen the ones you have; the ones given to you.


So if you experience someone doing something, stating something, performing something, producing something and it doesn't meet with your approval, you have to consider that maybe, with this particular thing, they've reached the peak of their ability to cultivate and present it. Maybe it's their best presentation of whatever it is. Maybe, even if they tried, they could never move above or beyond or better than what it displays as. It may be their limit. Criticising the performer at this point would be pointless. But I suppose the performance is always there to be judged by you if it doesn't meet your expectations. After all, an ugly, poorly done painting is simply ugly and poorly done to you if you think so. No one could convince you otherwise if you thought that, no matter how hard that person had tried to impress their 'talent' and work upon you.

BUT... may I caution?...
here's the twisty thing to think about...

Maybe it's your own development that is limited.
Maybe you simply haven't grown in the areas you needed to to appreciate or consider what you have experienced or are experiencing. Maybe you've been a bit lax or lazy in your own ways of realizing, thinking, and working hard to reach your own plateaus.
As a result maybe you can't see beyond the level YOU are at.
Maybe there's more to consider that you've never taken time or made effort to consider.
Maybe you don't recognize art, truth, beauty, talent, logic, or these kinds of things on more complicated, sophisticated levels because you haven't endeavored to push your own boundries and mind ever or enough. Maybe your lifestyle has been minimalistic, rudimentary, unchallenging, intellectually indolent, or not too interspective.

Scary to ponder, isn't it?
A bit disconcerting, a bit vulnerable, a bit exposed if you think about it, isn't it?
That's why a more humble, meek approach to life and most things about it all, is probably prudent.

It all boils down to:
If you aren't spending some quality time reflecting on yourself and where you're at with your state of mind and within this universe you find yourself in, you're probably ignoring work that should be done and missing out on the wonderful discoveries residing right inside of you, yet to be grappled with.


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